P.V. Vara Prasad is a University Distinguished Professor, R.O. Kruse Professor of Agriculture and Director of the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research on Sustainable Intensification at Kansas State University. He obtained his BS and MS degrees from Andhra Pradesh Agricultural University (India), and PhD from University of Reading (United Kingdom). His research focuses on understanding responses of crops to changing environments and developing best management strategies to improve and protect yields. He is passionate about research, education, and outreach activities; and building human and institutional capacity. He has active programs in several countries in Africa and Asia focused on innovations that provides food, nutrition and climate security and help improve livelihoods of people and smallholder farmers. He has published >380 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters. His research has been cited >22,700 times with h-index of 78 and i-10 index of 235. He has trained >200 students and research scholars from 25 countries. He gave >150 invited talks in 40 countries. He received >$150 million (about $90 million as principal investigator) in grant funding and donations. He is an elected fellow of the American Society of Agronomy; Crop Science Society of America; and American Association for the Advancement of Science. He served on the International Commission on Sustainable Agricultural Intensification. He is a former President of the Crop Science Society of America. He currently serves on the board of representatives on Council of Agricultural Science and Technology.
B. Jan Middendorf
B. Jan Middendorf serves as the Associate Director for Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Sustainable Intensification (SIIL) at Kansas State University (KSU). Dr. Middendorf provides executive-level coordination, management, programmatic and operational leadership, and guidance for the SIIL’s $75 million portfolio funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). This portfolio includes projects in Burkina Faso, Niger, Senegal, Ethiopia, Malawi, Tanzania, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Guatemala, and Honduras; four consortia; and human and institutional capacity building initiatives in Cambodia, West Africa, and Haiti. Dr. Middendorf conducts research and leads SIIL’s impact assessment and monitoring and evaluation efforts. She is also responsible for establishing and maintaining effective partnerships with other U.S. and international institutions, industry, USAID Missions, and developmental partners. As part of these efforts, she develops and implements strategic planning and capacity building initiatives to enhance collaborative research and support organizational change. This experience includes working with various stakeholders at the community, regional, national, and international levels. Prior to this role, Dr. Middendorf managed a $15.5M diverse portfolio focused on evaluation for the National Science Foundation (NSF). She also served for ten years as director of an evaluation center at KSU. Dr. Middendorf has over 30 years of experience in project development, management, implementation and evaluation of multi-institutional, interdisciplinary programs and projects in national and international settings. Dr. Middendorf earned her Ph.D. from KSU after completing her M.A. from Ohio University and B.S. University of Rhode Island.
Layne Wilson serves as the Program Administrator for the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research on Sustainable Intensification (SIIL). She collaborates with the Lab’s domestic and international partners to help manage the program’s monitoring and evaluation, communication, reporting, and knowledge management needs. Layne works with all of SIIL's projects, consortiums, and initiatives to provide regular updates and progress. Layne graduated from Texas Tech University with a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Communications and a minor in Agribusiness Management.
International Communciations Officer
Sanders Barbee serves as the International Communications Officer for the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research on Sustainable Intensification (SIIL). In her role, Sanders helps to expand and promote communication strategies, success stories, SIIL newsletters, and social media content from project activities for effective outreach. Sanders graduated from Kansas State University (KSU) with a major in Agricultural Economics, with a pre-law focus. While her time at KSU, she performed as a fellow with the K-State's Food and Agriculture Policy Fellowship, served two years as Secretary in the college MANRRS chapter, and lead as the Assistant Section Leader in the University marching band where she played the mellophone. Sanders recently served as the Conservation & Sustainability Fellow for the Kansas Grain Sorghum's Producer Association where she assisted Kansas Grain Sorghum in connecting with sustainability projects focusing on farm-oriented programming. During her time as a student, Sanders had the opportunity to travel to Morocco for an agriculturally focused cultural exchange. She is also the recipient of the 2022 George Washington Carver Leadership and Legacy Award.
Jessica Burden serves as the Business Manager for the Sustainable Intensification Innovation Lab. She is responsible for the financial management of all grants, including post-award accounting, travel planning, distribution of funding for sub-awards, and working with pre- and post-award services. Jessica holds a B.S. in Business Administration – Accounting with a minor in Leadership Studies, as well as a Masters in Accountancy, both from Kansas State University. Additionally, she has previous experience as an auditor, providing her with much grant compliance and financial experience and prior university experience at Kansas State, Oklahoma State, and University of North Texas.
Kinzey Cott serves as the Fiscal Analyst for the Sustainable Intensification Innovation Lab (SIIL). Kinzey provides financial analysis, accounting and travel support, and procurement for the SIIL's Haiti Agricultural Partnership: Center of Excellence on Mitigation, Adaptation, and Resilience to Climate-Change in Haiti, USAID-funded grant. Kinzey has over five years of international grant experience and has served as the fiscal analyst for the Sorghum and Millet Innovation Lab before joining SIIL. Kinzey holds a Bachelor's degree in Agribusiness and a Master of Science degree in Agricultural Economics from Kansas State University. Kinzey's thesis focuses on private grain storage technology considerations and location optimization. Kinzey has previous experience as a reconciliation accountant for three Innovation Labs, as well as production agriculture with livestock, row crops, and grain handling.
Araya Berhe serves as Program Manager for Geospatial and Crop Model applications in the Sustainable Intensification Innovation Lab at Kansas State University. He received his Ph.D. in Production Ecology and Resources Conservation from Wageningen University, the Netherlands. Currently, his research is focused on application of crop modeling, geospatial, and agro-meteorological technique for sustainable water management, developing climate change adaptation and resilience strategies, and optimizing resources use for sustainable agricultural production and food security. In addition, his responsibilities include managing research activities related to use of crop modeling, geospatial, and digital tools for reducing impacts of water shortage, climate change and climate variability, and nutrient management related challenges in agriculture at local, regional, and global level.
Associate Award Leadership
Prior to joining the SIIL team Beth Guertal was the Rowe Endowed Professor in the Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences Department at Auburn University, AL. Also, in 2022 she served a one-year assignment with USAID (in ITR/R) as a Jefferson Science Fellow, one of 15 such Fellows selected by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. Dr. Guertal received her BS and MS degrees from The Ohio State University, and her PhD from Oklahoma State University. Her research program focuses on soil fertility issues in turfgrass management. Guertal served as a Technical Editor for Crop Science, and as an Associate Editor for the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) Journal, Crop Science (CSSA) and Agronomy Journal (ASA). She is a past-Chair of Division C-5 (Turfgrass Management, CSSA), a Fulbright Fellow and a Fellow of CSSA, SSSA and ASA. She is a past President of the Crop Science Society of America.
Country Coordinator for Senegal
Aliou Faye has two decades of research experience with the Senegalese Agricultural Research Institute (ISRA), the French Institute of Research for Development and the International Centre for Cooperation in Agricultural Development (CIRAD). Faye worked also for 5 years as Chief of Agency of a Saudi group dealing with non-timber forest products in the Tambacounda and Louga regions of Senegal. Faye holds a B.S. in Tropical Forestry, a M.S. in Agronomy, and a Ph.D. in Plant Biology from the Cheikh Anta Diop University of Dakar with field experience at the Tropical Soil Biology and Fertility (CIAT) in Nairobi Kenya. Faye has published at least 20 research articles in different scientific journals. Faye is currently the director of the Regional Center for Improvement of Plant Adaptation to Drought (CERAAS) of ISRA in Theis, Senegal and serves as the Country Coordinator of the SIIL in Senegal.
Manuel Reyes, research professor, has more than 30 years of experience working with water quality modeling, natural resources management and conservation agriculture. He is an agroecological engineer, designing food production systems that mimic nature. Reyes has extensive expertise across the globe in research, extension, teaching and project implementation. Reyes will focus his efforts in Cambodia working with the Royal University of Agriculture and University of Battambang to enhance human and institutional capacity to conduct research and training of scholars and youth. He will facilitate partnerships with other Feed the Future Innovation Labs, international organizations and private industry in Cambodia.
Phone: +1 919-475 7763
Director of Institut de l’Environnement et de Recherche Agricoles (INERA)- Burkina Faso and Country Coordinator
Dr. Hamidou Traore has over 30 years of research experience in the field of agronomy. Traore holds a Ph.D. in Weed Science from the University of Montpellier II, Sciences and Techniques of Languedoc, France, and a Diploma of Rural Development Engineering in Agronomy from the University of Ouagadougou. He his Director of Research of "Conseil africain et malgache pour l'enseignement supérieur (CAMES)". Traore currently serves as Director of Institut de l’Environnement et de Recherche Agricoles (INERA), Burkina Faso. He previously held the position of Deputy Director of INERA, Head of Natural Resources Management & Cropping Systems Department, and Regional Director of the Eastern and Sahelian Environmental and Agricultural Research Regional Centers. He was also a Fulbright Scholar through the Agronomy Department of Purdue University, Indiana, USA. He is a knight of the national order of Burkina Faso.
Student Research Assistant
Marleigh Hutchinson is a Student Research Assistant for Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research on Sustainable Intensification (SIIL). She is a junior majoring in Environmental Engineering with a Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences (NRES) as a secondary major. In her role she helps create and execute laboratory communication strategies and research reports. She joined the SIIL group in the Fall of 2022 but spent her Spring 2023 semester studying at Czech Technical University, in Prague, Czech Republic on a study exchange program. Marleigh also serves as an undergraduate research assistant in the Carl R. Ice College of Engineering, where she works alongside faculty to develop and manage new wastewater management technologies. In addition, she is an Ambassador for the Carl R. Ice College of Engineering, giving tours to perspective students during their college decision process, and also serves as a Learning/Teaching Assistant for the Connecting Across Topics (CAT) Community “Global Engineers”,andmentor for K-State's Women in Engineering Program. Marleigh will graduate in May 2025.